Willie John takes first step in repaying his 1,900,000gns price-tag
Tattersalls February Sale top lot wins easily at Doncaster for Roger Varian
Willie John, the record-breaking top lot at this year’s Tattersalls February auction, made his first appearance since his 1,900,000gns sale a winning one on Saturday by claiming an impressive victory at Doncaster for his new connections.
Now trained by Roger Varian, the son of Dansili was sent off evens favourite to make a winning start to his three-year-old career and, although racing a bit keenly on his first start since October, he took command of the contest and galloped clear for a five-length victory in the hands of Andrea Atzeni.
Willie John's victory in the ten-furlong Unison and LV Victoria Car Insurance Novice Stakes was worth less than £4,000 but with an entry in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York this month, he could go some way towards repaying owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum’s investment in him.
Willie John’s price-tag makes him the highest-priced colt in training ever sold at public auction in Europe.
Bred by Meon Valley Stud out of Izzi Top, winner of the Pretty Polly Stakes and Prix Jean Romanet, he was originally purchased for 325,000gns at Book 1 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale in 2016 to race for a partnership of China Horse Club and Markus Jooste.
Trained by William Haggas for the partners, Willie John made a winning debut over 7f at Yarmouth in October.
However, Jooste has been forced to sell many of his assets, including his string of well-bred horses in Europe and South Africa, because of financial issues and so it came to pass that the exciting colt went under the hammer at Tattersalls in February.
Willie John is the second foal and winner out of Izzi Top, her first being the Oasis Dream four-year-old colt Dreamfield who was bought by Godolphin for 1,100,000gns at the 2015 Book 1 sale.
Her two-year-old colt by Dubawi, now named Prince Eiji, made 2,600,000gns at last year’s Book 1 sale when purchased by none other than Sheikh Mohammed bin Obaid.
The mare has a yearling filly by Muhaarar, a colt foal by Frankel and was covered by Intello this spring.
Izzi Top descends from Meon Valley Stud’s legendary foundation mare Reprocolor.
One of 28 Group 1 winners by Pivotal, she is a daughter of Prix de l’Opera winner Zee Zee Top and a half-sister to Jazzi Top, who won the Group 2 Prix de la Nonette and was second in the race won by her dam.
Zee Zee Top is a half-sister to dual Gold Cup and Irish St Leger hero Kayf Tara who is the leading British-based National Hunt sire.
Another half-brother is King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Coral Eclipse and Coronation Stakes winner Opera House, while her half-sister Spinning The Yarn is the dam of Moyglare Stud Stakes winner Necklace.
Their Irish Oaks-winning dam Colorspin is out of Reprocolor, one of the trio of yearling fillies purchased by the Weinfeld family in 1977 as one of the founding members of their stud farm.
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